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Monday Maps #3: Water Mill


Nearly every village of any size will have a mill for grinding grain. Windmills are popular in the Wasteland and other flat, windy areas, but everywhere else, a water mill uses the power of a nearby river. The mill is a vital part of the village economy, and the miller is a respected member of the community, turning raw grain into saleable flour for a percentage of the yield.

A water mill is essentially a large machine set inside a building, and it can be a dangerous place for the unwary – especially in a fight. Even if the wheels are not turning, they present hard an unforgiving obstacles in unlooked-for places; if the mill is in operation, their gears can snag clothes and crush their wearers.

And of course, there is that big wheel outside, for those who want to recreate the iconic sequence from Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest - The Big Wheel Fight

This diagram is from 19th-century America, but the principles of siting a watermill and directing the flow of water are unchanged from the Middle Ages:

mill-diagram

These two images give an idea of the interior layout:

 

WFRP Maps Water Mill

Borrowed from the web site of David Darling (https://www.daviddarling.info/index.html). No challenge to copyright intended.

Watermill machinery

A side view. Notice how the central shaft drives not only the millstones but also the top floor winch, used for hauling sacks up grain up for milling. Drawing by Pippa Miller, borrowed from Norfolk Mills (http://www.norfolkmills.co.uk/watermill-machinery.html). No challenge to copyright intended.

…and this more complex map includes floorplans that can easily be adapted for use in a game. It is borrowed from the Mills Archive, which has plans and drawings of many other English water mills.

WFRP Water mill

The mill at Barford St. Michael, Oxfordshire. Borrowed from the Mills Archive (https://catalogue.millsarchive.org/watermill-at-barford-st-michael). No challenge to copyright intended.

  1. Radek
    February 3, 2020 at 1:43 pm

    I just realized what the Polish surname “Miller” means! 😉

  2. totsuzenheni
    February 3, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    I’m enjoying these Monday Maps.

    If anyone wants to see a tide mill working in the UK then there is Eling Tide Mill:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eling_Tide_Mill . Pirates not included.

  3. Alan Green
    February 4, 2020 at 12:54 am

    In flatter river valley terrain the mill pond would be replaced by a man-made channel from much further upstream. In Reading the mill stream (or leat) built for the abbey mill is about 5 miles long and originates just south of Theale.

  4. February 6, 2020 at 2:12 am

    I did some research in German medieval mills and their lore for an adventure that featureed a mill:
    Apparently, the mills were often located outside of the village (for fear of flour dust explosions). This helped to enhance a certain aura of mystery that was created bysuperstition, as the grains were mystically transformed into flour.
    The miller belonged to the group of dishonest professions in medieval times, and he was often suspected of stealing flour and cheating the farmers.
    There’s a German saying that goes: “Put a tailor, a miller and cloth weaver in a bag and beat it with a club – you will always hit a rogue.”

    A lord could order that in a certain area, only the official mill must be used, and sometimes, even the grinding of grains at home was forbidden to the farmers. (it was called “Mühlbann”). This often increased the position of social isolation of the miller in the village community.

    Mills were areas of special jurisdiction, where the miller had a certain authority. Damage to the mill was under heavy penalty, and often, every act of violence on the area of the mill was strictly prohibited (for fear of explosions and of damage to the life sustaining mill). The Sachsenspiegel mentioned death on the wheel as a penalty for disturbing the peace at a mill.
    Therefore, the mill could serve as an asylum for fugitives and criminals, similar to churches, and it was forbidden to take those fugitives by force.

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